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Tag: 5

Wilma Jean

New more casual spot from the Seersucker (May it rest in peace) and Nightingale 9 guys.

What We Had

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I had a fried chicken breast with field pea & cherry tomato salad and buttermilk ranch with a lemonade.

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My DH had the fried chicken sandwich with mac & cheese and a Peak Organic IPA (mental note: I actually liked this beer and I hate IPAs).

Whoo hoo! This is the same fantastic fried chicken we fell in love with at Seersucker. Which is good, because we are semi-addicted and were totally worried that we’d never have fried chicken again.

The mac was good, the field pea salad was nice and light and fresh – and the ranch was great. I had forgotten how much I love ranch + fried chicken.

Decor

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Dark woods and white tables – small (this restaurant inhabits the space Nightingale 9 used to be in – Nightingale 9 has moved to the old Seersucker spot) but open and sunny.

Service

We went on their second day open, so it wasn’t as great as it will be.

Overall Impressions

This is a great little casual dinner place. Though I will still sorely miss the variety of items Seersucker served, Wilma Jean keeps the elevated Southern cuisine vibe alive with a re-focusing on fewer dishes (mostly involving fried chicken). The pimento cheese made the jump from the old place, as did the collards. I am sad to say the biscuits did not.

Rating

5 out of 5 for stellar chicken though give them a week or two to work the kinks out.

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Benoit

Old school French bistro that’s been around since 1912 in the theater district.

What We Had

We were on our way to a show (Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Waiting For Godot – which was fantastic), so we both opted for selections off the pre theater prix fixe menu.

I had the cheese soufflé, braised pork cheeks, and apple & pear crepe with vanilla bean ice cream.

My DH had the cheese soufflé, mussels and frites, and the cheese selection for dessert.

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The cheese soufflé (we both had shaved truffle over top) was divine. Pillowy, moist, cheesy and rich – it was truly a fantastic start to the meal.

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My pork cheeks were ridiculously good and scratched an itch for broth I didn’t even know I had. The cheeks were tender and the accompanying root vegetables were good, but the real star here was the cooking liquid. Reduced to the point of stickiness, it was the very essence of pork – intensely flavored, deeply fragrant and something I’d like to stick my face into a vat of.

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My DH’s mussels & frites were great – nice crispy fries, good quality mussels – and a good portion of them.

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My apple dessert was fantastic. Not too sweet and not whopping huge, it fit the after dinner bill perfectly.

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My DH’s cheese plate was also great – a nice bleu, a runny Brie, and a mild hard cheese with all the usual accompaniments.

Decor

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Warm reds and woods fleshed out the ceiling sky murals, giving the space an airy yet intimate feel; and the twinkling candle light reflected by lots of mirrors gave a sense that this place is somewhere special.

Service

Great.

Overall Impressions

We did not have huge expectations. First, this restaurant is French – and for every halfway decent French restaurant, there are about 99999 others serving terrible bland food. We’d mostly experienced the latter.

Second, it’s the prix fixe menu – sometimes those are great, sometimes they’re packed with pre-warmed food and so many cost cutting measures that they’re no better than something from a TGIMcFridayBees. We were hoping for the former , but expecting the latter.

I am thrilled to say we were 100% wrong on both accounts. The food was stellar, the service was great, and the atmosphere was really something special. Not only was this meal great value for money, but it gave us enough time to get to our show, and bolstered our stomachs for the frozen chaos that is anywhere within a 12-block radius of Rockefeller Center in the weeks before Christmas.

Rating

5 out of 5 for a fantastic meal, great service, and getting us to our show on time.

Alder

More casual-ish offshoot of WD-50, located in the Lower East Side.

What We Had

Like WD-50, the menu at Alder is arranged from smaller dishes to larger dishes and sharing is encouraged.

Smaller Dishes

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Foie gras with pumpkin pie taste, pomegranate jam, maple flakes and cookie crostini — This dish was the first we had and really kicked the meal off properly. Just rich and luxurious enough for foie, with pretty much the essence of fall right there.

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Scotch quail eggs with onion marmalade and arugula — And now I’m spoiled on Scotch eggs forever. Yum.

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Pigs in a blanket – Chinese style duck and pork sausage with Japanese wasabi mustard and sweet chili sauce — I, for some unknown reason, wasn’t expecting much from this dish. I’m happy to say that I was woefully wrong.

Pickled Beets with clouds of coconut ricotta and crunchy Thai basil — Holy wtf. Fan. Freakin. Tastic, and the perfect mid-meal veggie.

Larger Dishes

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Day boat scallops with delicate little hushpuppies, Swiss chard wrap, and fresh kimchi — prefect scallops, little puppie pillows, and some nice little texture going on there.

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Tongue with smoked yucca fritter, pickled cippolini onions, and chimichurri dashi — if tongue could ever be considered sexy, it would be because of this dish. Luxurious and velvety meat tangle with some nice back bone from the fritter and a delicate broth.

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Root beer pudding with smoked cashews — this was so good it made me angry. I kind of had my way with it.

Our food was unreasonably good. I could be redundant and say each and every dish was Amazeballs, but suffice it to say – they all were, and sadly it’s unreasonable to expect every meal to be this fabulous.

My DH had the Reserve Special Black Ale and I had the Doc something to drink. Both very tasty.

Decor

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Modern and cool with slates and woods.

Service

Stellar.

Overall Impressions

There was no doubt that we were going to love this place. We love WD-50, and Alder was no disappointment.

Rating

5 out of 5 for unreasonably good food in a great atmosphere.

Umami Burger

NYC outcrop of a popular California chain.

What We Had

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I had The Original – Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions & house ketchup – cooked medium-rare with no bun.

I also had an order of sweet potato fries with signature sweet salt (brown sugar salt).

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My DH had the Manly Burger – Beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked salt onion rings, house ketchup & mustard spread cooked medium-rare on a bun.

He also had thin fries (plain).

OMFG amazing. Definitely in our top 5 favorite burgers ever.. And that sweet salt … That sweet salt on the sweet potato fries with the diablo or jalapeño ranch sauce – I heard a heavenly chorus. The meat was great – the burger had a perfect hard sear while retaining lots of juice and perfect doneness – and the toppings were all placed in service to umami. Truly fantastic.

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Decor

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Built for mass traffic with durable slate floors, commercial seating and an open floor plan.

Service

We visited on a Saturday around lunch and there was a 10-15 minute wait presided over by an iPad equipped hostess who seemed to be on top of things.

Our server seemed to be operating in a general state of confusion, but still managed to deliver our meals quickly.

Overall Impressions

Zomfg, where have you been all my life? We need to go back soon and often.

Rating

5 out of 5 for a nearly perfect meal. It’s not cheap as burgers go, but it’s worth it – and has officially unseated shake shack as my DH’s favorite burger place burger.

Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue

Long-awaited brick and mortar location of a Smorgasburg favorite.

What We Had

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Brisket – Quite possibly the best in town.
Pulled Pork – Also fantastic.
Vinegar-based Slaw – Great crunch; nice and fresh bite to cut the smoke and fat.
Pickled Chilies & Onions – Genius accompaniment.
Pea & Edamame Salad – Nice bright refresher and the perfect Spring side.
Burnt End Baked Beans – Smoky, velvety and full of meat – just how beans should be.

Decor

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Open & breezy with lots of blacks, metal and wood. Great music.

Service

Order at the counter.

Overall Impressions

Fantastic. Stellar meat, really great sides, beer, *and* they’ll be adding fries to the menu soon. Win.

Rating

5 out of 5 for outstanding BBQ.

The current BBQ ranking lineup: The brisket here surpasses Fletcher’s, making it our favorite in town. The pork is almost as good as Fette Sau. If you figure in the killer sides & pickled veg, Mighty Quinn edges it out to become our favorite overall BBQ joint. Fette Sau is still, technically, our favorite pork place – if only for the vinegar-based sauce.

Strip House

Sexy burlesque-themed steak house around Union Square.

What We Had

Amuse of cauliflower soup with parsley oil. Really great. Not diet food but luscious and rich.

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New England sea scallops with edamame succotash, black truffle butter & corn broth – Stellar. Nice hard sear on the scallops with a delicate yet flavorful broth.

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Filet Mignon – Great steak. Good quality, cooked to perfection, and not messed with too much. It also came with A fabulous little roasted garlic head on the side.

Though it is sacrilege for both of us, the house steak sauce was really nice and we both had more than a single taste.

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Black Truffle Creamed Spinach – Holy crap amazing. I will dream about this. Perhaps the single best thing I’ve eaten since the foie at Modern. I need this in my life.

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Mac & Cheese – No complaints; good but not life changing.

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The largest slab of cheesecake I’ve had the pleasure to tangle with on quite awhile, which was fabulous as well.

And a surprise birthday hot brownie with vanilla ice cream – an unexpected treat that was really very good.

At the time, I wrote ‘fantastical’ to describe the desserts.

Decor

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Sexy reds and golds, with lots of leather, flocked velvet walls, dark wood, white tablecloth charm, celebs & tasteful nudie pics on the walls, and a swinging soundtrack.

Service

Impeccable service. White vest old school style steakhouse service, friendly manager making personal visits.

Overall Impressions

A gem. While we were slightly sad to see the dining room was more tables and banquette seating and less the high-backed VIP room booths of our imagination, this was a great place to spend a birthday dinner. Sexy but not trashy, and really great food.

Rating

5 out of 5 for top notch food and stellar service in a romantic but classy enough environment to take a date or celebrate a birthday with a long time love. Zero complaints.

Rai Rai Ken

Lauded as one of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s favorite ramen spots in NYC. Located in the village.

What We Had

2 special Ramens – 1 with lobster & 1 with ground pork (mabo)

Both had big, bold flavors and perfectly al dente noodles

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The lobster had a nice lobster, shrimp & pork based broth topped with poached egg, shrimp, cilantro & scallion – deeply shellfishy broth, luxurious egg, welcome shrimp.

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The mabo had a soy sauce based broth topped with ground pork, tofu, chili & scallion – nutty, rich, happy-making pork bits … It’s all there.

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Gyoza – light, with veg, nice taste.

Decor

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Vibrant & busy with bustling servers a a flurry of activity from the open kitchen.

Lots of bright red balanced by mixed wood tones.

Service

No-nonsense.

Overall Impressions

Cash only.

It’s a more than suitable substitute if Ippudo is booked, but just a tic under our favorite. On the other hand, much less expensive and very, very tasty.

Rating

5 out of 5 for damn tasty noodles for a great price.

*We have visited a few times after that first time, even with company, and the taste held up.

Fette Sau

Don’t let the frou-frou name fool you, this place is packing some serious meat skills.

What We Had

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My DH had the Black Angus Brisket – This was fantastic; almost as good as his gold standard Texas brisket against which all other briskets must be compared. Tender, smoky, beefy, everything you could want in a brisket.

I had the Duroc Pulled Pork. With liberal lashings of the table vinegar sauce, it tasted almost like going home. Nice pink ring, perfect fat to meat ratio, good base spicing…. really, really close to Eastern NC-style. The vinegar was close, too. So close, we used half the bottle. 🙂

Really, the only thing missing was hushpuppies & red pepper flakes in the vinegar.

We also had an order of the Burnt Ends Baked Beans – These beans simmer all day beside the brisket and get little chunks of beef reinforcements all day. I loved the background burnt caramelized complexity – the DH less so. These beans were sweet. Sweet, beefy, hearty, and good.

Décor

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Minimal long tables with bench seating, meat diagrams on the walls, fake fireplace & knife blade beer tap pulls.

Service

You order at the counter and find a seat as you can.

Overall Impressions

Fette Sau gives (at least these) displaced North Carolinians that particular type of deep soul satisfaction that only comes from ingesting big hunks of smoky meats. We’re only sad we didn’t find this place day 1.

Rating

5 out of 5 – if you want pig, this is the place to be.

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Oh yeah, and they have Cheerwine!

Ippudo

Ramen hot spot near NYU

What We Had

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I had the Kasane Black – Authentic Kasane Tonkotsu (pork) noodles topped w pork loin chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, red pickled ginger, naruto, scallions & fragrant black garlic oil. I added Nitamago (seasoned salt boiled egg). This dish was fabulous. The taste was delicate, deep, and robust all at the same time. I ate every bit, drank all the broth, and was sad I had no more room for Kae-dama (a second helping of noodles). My egg was a nice touch, and no added spice was needed – the black garlic was too interesting a flavor to risk drowning it. Get anything on the menu with the sesame kikurage mushrooms – they are lovely little flavor bombs.

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My DH had the Miso Ramen –
Soy bean paste flavored noodles in the original “Tonkotsu” (pork) based soup with pork chashu, cabbage, menma, ginger, and scallions. He also added Nitamago (seasoned salt boiled egg) and Bakudan (Ippudo original spicy paste). This dish was also fabulous. Rich, deep, complex & wholly satisfying. The spice was a nice addition here – that paste is really a standout in the world of spice additions.

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We split the Hirata Buns (pork) – Steamed buns with pork & spicy mayo bun sauce. A great way to start the meal, but Momofuku’s are just a bit better.

Overall our meal was near perfect – not a note missed or a taste out of whack. Words are falling short when describing just how good the broth here is. Pure comfort – rich, deeply complex, delicately balanced – a balm for the soul. For the expertise used in preparing your food, the price is beyond fair. ($15-$16 per bowl + $2-$4 per addition). Sure, you can get a decent bowl of noodles for half the price, but this is something better. Whole. Other. Level.

Décor

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Ippudo has a great vibe – young, boisterous, open – and the Beasties (among other great bands) in the sound system.

Seating is at large communal tables – not the place to bring small children or strollers. The decor is modern and minimal, yet layered and very interesting.

Service

Friendly & efficient.

Overall Impressions

This place is hands down better than Republic, and might even edge out Momofuku Noodle Bar in the pantheon of noodle houses. (ok, it does, but just by a little)

If we lived next door, my DH would happily let it make us fat (and I don’t think I could put up much of a fight).

Rating

DH is calling this his best NY meal ever. This includes WD~50, local & seasonal up the wazoo, celebrity chef vehicles, Beard Award winners and noodles from culinary luminaries.

I would say for noodles it is the best – I just can’t put it over WD~50s Eggs Benedict — I dreamed of that dish for over a year and half and planned a vacation around it before we lived here (it lived up to expectations and then some — unfortunately, WD~50 has overhauled their menu since — understandable, but sad).

Ippudo can’t help but be a 5 out of 5. Run, don’t walk. Wait in a ridiculously long line if you have to (and you might – lines are often crazy, though we lucked into a 15 minute wait on a Sunday late afternoon)- it is worth it.

Buttermilk Channel

American bistro-style restaurant that focuses on just plain good food in Carroll Gardens.

What We Had

Table Bread

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A light and surprising little Yorkshire pudding popover.

Appetizers

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Hushpuppies with Green Chili Aioli – Crumbly, sweet & yum puppies. The aioli was good, too.

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2 Grilled Oysters with Bacon – Perfectly lightly smoked (but still mostly raw) oysters with nice smoky bacon and a devilishly good spicy sauce.

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2 Chilled Oysters with Grapefruit Mignonette – Briny, bright and bracing raw oysters with a great vinegar punch.

Entrees

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I had the Saturday lobster dinner special. This week’s entree was a split 1 1/2 pound lobster with fresh squid ink pasta & grapefruit. Omfg this was good. Perfect lobster with buttery and light pasta – a knockout.

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My DH had the Fried Chicken with Cheddar Waffles and Savoy Slaw – This chicken was awesome (crunchy, juicy, perfectly seasoned) and the molasses syrup was a pleasant surprise. The slaw was also nice – colorful, crunchy & lightly dressed.

Décor

Nice and simple – calm, plain, letting the food speak for itself.

Service

Good. Friendly and willing to explain menu items (like just how big the lobster special was).

Overall Impressions

Yum. This is a great little place. We’ve got to plan a trip back on a Monday to hit the ridiculously reasonably priced ($25!) tasting menu.

Rating

5 out of 5. Run, don’t walk. You won’t be disappointed.